Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Did Melissa Harris-Perry Go too Far by Calling Tavis Smiley "the Nurse Who Aided and Abetted the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment?"
The black family is strong here, with Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry giving the hot tag to her husband to set up Tavis Smiley for a spine buster a la Arn Anderson circa 1985.
I agree with the facts of her critique: Melissa's observation that Tavis Smiley was a middleman for mortgage fraud by the banking industry against black and brown communities is spot on.
Dr. Perry's allusion is also grounded historically--during Jim and Jane Crow it was common for white real estate agents who were engaged in "blockbusting" to send black families door to door in (then) exclusively white neighborhoods. Their presence would scare white people with the prospect of "racial integration." The mark was softened up. The con was turned when the white real estate agent could make an offer to buy the house because "the blacks" were moving in. The same real estate agent would then charge a premium to African-Americans who want to move into the same neighborhood.
But, to call Tavis Smiley the equivalent of the nurse who aided and abetted the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments is a lethal dagger. I have not seen such a damning turn of phrase in many years on national TV; it is the equivalent of some Mark Twain verbal sonning circa the 19th century.
There is lots of bad blood between Melissa, Tavis, and Brother West. One day the full details will come to light. For now, we only have rumors and guesses as to what is really driving the feud. How will West and Smiley respond? And do you think Professor Harris-Perry went too far?
I love a good fracas. The response by West and Smiley is going to be mighty entertaining.